MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – In anticipation of extremely large Spring Break crowds, Miami Beach police will be out in force starting Friday.READ MORE: Residents Bubbling Up With Anger After Sunrise Utilities Department Sends Out Bloated Water Bills
The department said they will be increasing staffing to the highest level.
An additional 80 officers from the department will be deployed, along with bringing in more than 70 officers from outside agencies to assist.
“It is vital that our residents feel safe in our city — nothing is more important than preserving quality of life,” said Mayor Dan Gelber. “We also welcome all visitors as long as they follow our laws and respect our community. This is not a place where anything goes, and if that is their reason for coming here, they should go elsewhere.”
Two or more officers will be stationed at the intersections of 5th Street & Collins Avenue and 5th Street and Washington Avenue. Officers are also being deployed at fixed posts at every intersection on Collins and Washington from 6th street up to Lincoln Road.
Two dozen officers in protective gear will patrol the beach throughout the weekend and seize alcohol and drugs.
Gelber said a big part of the problem is day drinking on the beach which leads to trouble later.
“People are coming on to Ocean Drive, they’ve been drinking, maybe smoking pot. It becomes a block party and then it becomes something worse than that. We’re trying to stop that from happening,” he said.
Police figure the best way to stop it is to stop the booze from flowing on the beach.READ MORE: Florida House Moves Forward On Violent Protest Crackdown
“If you have an open container, beer or liquor in it, they’re going to ask you politely to pour it out and if you don’t they’re going to arrest you. And if you’re smoking pot they’re going to ask you to put it out, if you don’t they’re going to arrest you,” said Gelber.
Barricades and all-terrain vehicles will be used to disperse crowds and prisoner transport vans will be parked on the beach to remind Spring Breakers to obey the rules.
The city will also be taking new steps to protect the residents in the Flamingo Park and South of Fifth neighborhoods, the two residential zones immediately abutting the entertainment district. They will be establishing a residential boundary around the entire Flamingo Park area, which will take effect both Friday and Saturday evenings. Flamingo Park residents should carry a photo ID with them to access the area.
The MacArthur Causeway License Plate Reader detail that was previously on the causeway will be moved onto 5th Street, and the Julia Tuttle Causeway LPR detail will commence later in the evenings. This change aims to balance public safety without compounding traffic woes. The Julia Tuttle will have two lanes open at all times and one lane closed this weekend during the following times: Friday, March 22, 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.; Saturday, March 23, 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.
In addition to maintaining Ocean Drive as pedestrian only, the city will also remove parking on Collins Avenue between 5th and 15th streets this weekend to enhance the flow of traffic.
“I thank all of our law enforcement and first responders for working long, difficult days and nights to keep us safe and for exercising their best judgment under trying circumstances. We appreciate their service,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.
The city is also stepping up code enforcement and citing establishments in violation, like this past weekend when one club was cited and shut down for being over capacity.
City officials said this year’s crowds have been about a third larger than last year, with more boozing, brawling, and drugs.
Here is a sobering fact; the cost of spring break to Miami Beach taxpayers in 2017-18 was $1.078 million.MORE NEWS: Extremely Vulnerable To COVID? Complete A Medical Exemption Form & Visit New Federal Site At MDC’s North Campus
In 2018-19 the original projection was $1.1 million. Now that number is up to $1.5 million.